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Leaving Seattle for Burma next Week: Still have Questions

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Hi All,
We decided to go to Burma/Myanmar only about a month ago, at first planning to do the Orient-Express Road-to-Mandaly Cruise. We became concerned however, that we wouldn't get to be out and about on our own much, interacting with locals, dining where we wanted, etc. Addtionally we're not much for tour groups. So Plan B came to be and all of your contributions have been invaluable.

An especially big thank you to Craig for your thorough report from your 2007 trip. You are a household name now, with the phrase “Craig says…” having been uttered from my mouth about 20 times a week. Hanuman, dogster, you guys have been great reading too and the excellent questions from ekscrunchy, Kathie, nywoman and wonky have benefited us as well. What a cool group you all are, including anyone else I missed mentioning. You have no idea how much help you’ve been so far.

I am logging on everyday now to see what morsels of wit and wisdom Kathie and nywoman are offering as they report in. So if you find yourselves reading this, kathie and nywoman, any guidance you can offer would be welcome.

We sent out 2 inquiries for TAs in Yangon on Oct. 30, one to Santa Maria and one to Good News Travel. Santa Maria responded first and was more forthcoming with room and flight details. Good News was always a day or two behind in responding but their tour itinerary looks excellent and was very well detailed. They are highly recommended in To Myanmar with Love and mentioned in LP too. Tough decision but we chose to go with Santa Maria since they were first to confirm they had all the hotel rooms and flights we had requested along with pricing. I learned about them through your recommendations, so thanks.

Our itinerary is fairly standard. 14 nights in Myanmar: 2 nights Yangon, 2 nights Bagan, 2 nights Mandalay, 3 nights Inle Lake and 4 nights Ngapali for some much needed R&R for Krista, 1 more night in Yangon. Bookend nights at BKK at the Novotel Airport Hotel.

Hotels are Govenor’s Residence, Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, Rupar Mandalar, Inle Princess Resort, and Sandoway Resort in Ngapali.

We are doing the Balloons over Bagan at sunrise. I love the idea of riding bikes there in Bagan too. We are staying at Hotel @ Tharabar Gate so should be a good set-up for that. Taking Craig’s advice, I had them omit the Mt. Popa trip. We want to make sure we have enough downtime and independent time so that we are not constantly scheduled.

Also in Bagan, Good News Travel had us doing a sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy instead of the sunset on the top of a temple. Right now S.M. has us on top of a temple, but my guess is I could change that. Any one have any thoughts about which would be the better way to go?

At Inle Lake we are doing the Sagar boat excursion to the south part of the lake which sounds wonderful.

I am wondering if I should have bypassed Mandalay altogether and allocated those nights to other places, as it looks like some of you have done. It’s a little late to be making those kinds of changes now though, so Mandalay it is.

My other questions have to do with:

Mosquitoes (they love me, unfortunately): What’s the story on them, where are they the worst and when? Of course we have our Malarone Rx and deet, but don’t want to be worrying about Dengue, etc. Or if they are really not a problem for where we are going, I would love to know that too.

Attire for women: Are shorts above the knees (excluding in temples) okay in general or is it like in Rajasthan where it’s really not well tolerated by the culture?

Souvenir limitations re-entering the US: I read what the US State Department has on the website, but I found it confusing. No gems, I know, but are there any limitations on bringing back handicrafts of any kind, i.e. lacquer ware? It sounds like it’s not a problem as long as the items are handcrafted. Confirmation on this would be appreciated.

Permissible Guide Books: I take it that the books, LP and To Myanmar with Love would be okay to bring into the country, yes?

Excess baggage: Craig do you remember what the fees were? We’re still packing so not sure if it will be an issue but wanted to get some sense of the costs just in case.

We leave on 11/20. Any answers and suggestions would be very welcome! Thanks!

Steph

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